New England Ocean Action Network

Ocean Representatives at the Capitol!
Members visit the Capitol!

Earlier this week members of the New England Ocean Action Network (NEOAN) gathered in Washington, DC with stakeholders from key coastal communities in New England, the mid-Atlantic and Oregon. The group was led by policy leaders from Ocean Conservancy, Conservation Law Foundation and National Resource and Defense Council, to speak with their elected leaders about Regional Ocean Partnership Grants.  These grants are an important part of NOAA's National Ocean Service, whose mission is to support coastal communities, promote a robust economy, and protect coastal and marine ecosystems. This includes preparing our coast line for changing ocean conditions, from acidification to sea level rise and changing economic conditions, from recession to emerging ocean uses, as well as destruction from major catastrophes such as Superstorm Sandy to marine debris clogging waterways. 

In New England, this planning for our changing oceans is done through the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, which was formed by the governors of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine in 2005. Today, all six states continue to participate in this important partnership, however lack of funding for 2014 jeopardizes progress.   

Heather Ruhsam represented Sailors for the Sea offering an ocean health and conservation perspective to the dialogue.  It is important for the boating community to remember that they are stakeholders in this planning process that keeps our ocean's health at the forefront when determining shared use and economic development. Boaters input was essential to the success of the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey, which created maps of important areas to recreational boaters and demonstrated the economic value of this industry. You can view the results of this survey by clicking here (PDF).  Boaters can continue to lend a voice to the ocean planning conversation, ensuring that the waters we enjoy are protected now and for future generations.

For more information about Regional Ocean Planning in New England, visit neoceanplanning.org or northeastoceancouncil.org, and for information about NEOAN visit newenglandoceanaction.org. Through these sites, boaters can join mailing lists, view events and find information about opportunities to submit public opinion in this ongoing process.